Canada, Privacy, and Freedom

Nations that make a fetish of protecting the privacy of their citizens are often unfree: there’s a good reason for that.

Here’s the latest report from Privacy International:

  • The lowest ranking countries in the survey continue to be Malaysia, Russia and China.
  • The highest-ranking countries in 2007 are Greece, Romania and Canada.
  • The 2006 leader, Germany, slipped significantly in the 2007 rankings, dropping from 1st to 7th place behind Portugal and Slovenia.
  • In terms of statutory protections and privacy enforcement, the US is the worst ranking country in the democratic world. In terms of overall privacy protection the United States has performed very poorly, being out-ranked by both India and the Philippines and falling into the “black” category, denoting endemic surveillance.
  • The worst ranking EU country is the United Kingdom, which again fell into the “black” category along with Russia and Singapore.

Privacy is a dimension of freedom, so it’s odd to see free nations like the US and UK at the bottom of the table and collectivist states like Germany and Canada at the top.

The Canadian government just charged Mark Steyn with violating the human rights of Muslims for his eloquent analysis of their benighted religion, and is prosecuting another Canadian, Ezra Levant, for publishing the Motoons.

Since free speech is the core of our freedoms, it follows that Canada is not free. So how come they’re so keen on protecting privacy?

The answer is that Privacy International bases its scoring what governments do – if they have lots of laws and agencies protecting privacy, they get high marks. So all the index measures is the intrusiveness of the state.

In fact privacy protection is inversely related to freedom, since free societies trade privacy for freedom. If I walk the streets late at night, I don’t consider a cop asking my business an intrusion on my privacy, but as evidence of the framework that protects my freedom.

Similarly, if I record a Muslim preaching murder and rape I violate his privacy for the greater good of his potential victims.

Finally the freedom of nations is based on their peoples, not governments – here in Italy there’s a proposal to force bloggers to register with the state, but Italians will ignore that, just as they ignore most other laws coming from their despised central government.

So here’s the rule: democratic nations with strong privacy laws are the least free.

I trust Canadians offended by this post will rise up against their collectivist state, not seek to extradite me in chains.


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